Storm Boswick, managing director of New York-based Brightwood Capital, was among a five-member panel of industry experts at a Guernsey Finance funds ‘master class’ Wednesday evening in London, reflecting, some said, a growing relationship between Guernsey and the American funds industry.
In answer to a question posed during the panel session, Boswick, (pictured on the far left), said he was echoing others in observing that US fund managers tended to be put off of attempting to do business across the pond by a perception of European regulations as being “opaque and difficult” and “complicated”, with costly adjustments needing to be made to accommodate all of Europe’s different jurisdictions.
But the fact that Brightwood is in Guernsey at the moment to set up an entity it is planning to list on the London Stock Exchange, because Guernsey represented “the best solution for our product”, was, he went on, proof in itself that there is a case for Americans to at least consider Guernsey, if they are looking to reach out to investors beyond the US borders.
Both Guernsey and the US are expected to be part of the “first wave” of non-EU-member countries that are expected to be permitted to market their alternative investment funds into Europe via the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD), Boswick noted, a fact that was also highlighted by the event’s keynote speaker, UK member of Parliament Howard Flight.
Lord Flight, who was introduced by a Guernsey Finance representative as “the father of the Guernsey funds industry” because of the role he played in establishing the funds industry there in 1979, said that it was his opinion that the AIFMD passport “will happen” for Guernsey and certain other jurisdictions that are now outside of it, though it could be delayed until as 2017 or even 2018, “so as to include more jurisdictions”.
“And I believe that that ESMA [the European Securities and Markets Authority] is actually really rather hearteningly supportive of the Channel Islands,” he added.
As for the European Commission, he noted that a recent letter from it on the subject of the AIFMD passporting matter was more businesslike than “all smiles”, but “in essence was, I think, confirmative” of its generally positive intentions.
Around 300 people attended the Guernsey event, which was held at the British Museum, including fund managers, advisers, accountants, lawyers, administrators and business development practitioners, according to the event’s organisers. The purpose of the event was to provide technical insight into the AIFMD and the AIFMD passporting plans, while also addressing the current situation with respect to the National Private Placement Regime (NPPR), which is how alternative fund managers that aren’t currently able to market into the EU under the AIFMD itself are able establish and maintain a presence.
In addition to having an American on it, the Guernsey panel of experts also featured three women and just two men, something of a change from the normal funds industry ratio.
The women were Emma Bailey, director of the Investment Supervision and Policy Division of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (second from right in the photo); Cathy Pitt, corporate partner of CMS Cameron McKenna (second from left); and Rebecca Gordon, general counsel, Liberum Capital Ltd (middle).
The fifth member of the panel (far right) was Peter Gibbs, chief operating officer of Permira Dept Managers.